Monthly Archives: September 2018

Cheap Grace?

I always wonder if people realise what they are saying when they effectively insult the Grace of God, by saying it’s ‘cheap’ – although I appreciate they are mainly criticising people like me who live in Grace, rather than criticising Grace itself.

But whatever their reason, their Bible says that Grace is good, and that it comes from God, Who gives us only good things. Why then is it ‘cheap’? That’s ridiculous! And as for it being a ‘licence to sin‘, well, people manage that easily enough without Grace to help them. No, it’s Grace that teaches us to say ‘No’ so sin, not to give in to it! (Titus 2:11-12)’

In this excellent short piece, Christy Wood gives her take on Grace and how it works in her life:


I’ve heard people complain about the ridiculously extravagant grace of Jesus. They don’t like the way we teach it. They call it “cheap grace.”

It’s more than cheap, it’s free! 😂

“But God still expects you to do the right things,” they say. “You should still do the right things. You can’t tell people that it doesn’t matter what they do.”

I don’t think they realize this, but the emphasis here is on behaviors. And even good behaviors can be sin when our heart motives are wrong. 😬

We are broken people! And we are so often motivated by fear, pride, guilt, etc. Jesus came to set us free at the heart level. He doesn’t need us to fix ourselves. He just wants to shower grace upon us, build a relationship with us, and begin to work on restoring our hearts. 😊

We WILL change when we meet Jesus. That’s a total given. But it won’t be because we are obsessed with a checklist of behaviors.

We will change because Jesus is changing us deep inside. Because the Spirit is at work empowering us, molding us, and remaking us. We will change at a heart level because of His scandalous, extravagant grace. ❤️


Link to the original piece is here.

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And What He Says, Do…

This entry is part 31 of 31 in the series Fiona

It’s twenty-three months today since I lost the love of my life, my dear Fiona. Nearly two years.

In that time I have learned so much, I have grieved so much, I have lived so much. I have learned a wisdom and a compassion I never thought possible. I have walked closely with Jesus like I never have done before. I have attained a depth and breadth of understanding that previously I could only dream of.

Truly, I have taken that terrible loss, and with my best friend Jesus walking by my side, we have brought new life from the darkness. New ideas, new concepts, new understandings, new meaning for life and faith.

Of course, I would give anything to have my Fiona still by my side. And the last couple of months, particularly, have been extremely hard for some reason; I seem to have felt her loss more keenly than I have before, at least since the first few months. I dream about her most nights, and that’s good, because I get chance to talk to her about how I am feeling.

But the growth continues; the strengthening of my spirit, the confidence, the complete lack of any kind of fear, the total absence of any compulsion to please men rather than God. It’s almost as if my recent growth has placed me in a position where I feel that I am beyond mere worldly cares and considerations. Sure, I have my responsibilities to my family and to my employers. But the freedom I experience in my life is immense.

I find myself above and beyond the considerations of mere worldly politics and other double-meaning, double-dealing shenanigans.

Here’s an example of this wisdom in action. A friend of mine, the other day; a man who is far on in the faith and has an incredible spiritual maturity, was accused of ‘taking sides’ on a certain matter of dispute because he can see both sides, just like Jesus can. Here’s how he expressed it:

I’m afraid my “middle of the road” stance is gonna get blasted by BOTH sides. You have to either believe everything that a potential victim says and demonize the alleged offender, making him unfit to serve our country in any capacity, or try and minimize what could be a serious crime and call their accusations “fake news”. And I’m not good with EITHER of those positions. I want to know the truth, but I don’t know if the truth can be ascertained in these circumstances. I want justice for [the person in question], but don’t know if justice means destroying a man’s career and possibly life over what COULD have been a stupid macho mistake or terrible misunderstanding. Can I trust a man to handle the law that has potentially hurt someone? Yes, under the right circumstances. But I’m not even clear on what those would be, but I want it to revolve around the truth, admission of any guilt, apologies, forgiveness and restitution. I really just want compassion and justice for all”

I wrote this to him:

“[My friend], I don’t see you as being ‘middle of the road’ at all. I see you as being above the road; being able to see what is going on – but not only not taking sides, but just being Jesus. Remember the theophany in Joshua 5? [Josh 5:13b-14 (KJV)] ‘Are you on our side, or the enemy?’ “No” was the answer. Not ‘Neither’, although that’s not far off, but ‘No’. ‘Neither’ involves the choice of taking neither side. ‘No’ indicates that the question is not germane. There is a detachment from sinking to the level of the human conflict and its ‘choosing sides’, or even choosing the middle road, and seeing it from God’s point of view instead. Any and every Christian has the right to sit in that position of ‘No’; it’s far above a simple refusal to take sides, it’s part of being who you are in Christ. There is neither requirement nor compulsion to declare or assume sides; you are not answerable to anyone because you are a spiritual man. And you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone either.

His reply:

Wow, thanks Anthony. I don’t know that that’s EXACTLY what I’m doing, but it sure is something I would aspire to. I am trying to see everyone’s point of view, to put myself in their shoes and think about what they would need and want. And, yeah, that’s why I can’t just pick a side. Argue for one side, and I’ll just end up telling you why the other side can’t be ignored or belittled. When it comes to perpetrators (or even alleged perpetrators) that becomes VERY difficult in this country [USA – Ed], even among the Christian population. Everyone seems to call out for their pound of flesh. I’m trying to see from the point of view of that flesh”

I finished off the exchange with this:

And that was exactly what was in my mind when I wrote the comment. But as a man of peace, you naturally, well, maybe not always see both ‘sides’, but you at least are aware that both ‘sides’ exist and having that ability to put yourself in both sides’ shoes and try to see things from their point of view is about as Christlike as it gets. Unfortunately, those who cannot understand this see it as picking sides, merely because you express the fact that both sides have a point of view – but without making a value judgement on those points of view. So, you haven’t picked sides, but because you express attempted understanding of both sides, this makes you apparently complicit with both. But you and I both know that this is not the case at all, and this is why the spiritual man cannot be judged by anyone – because we see things from the spiritual point of view, not the worldly. Not that we are superior on anything, but we simply have a perspective that not everyone has”

This is the kind of wisdom that we learn from being close to Jesus and listening closely to His heart. And to bring this back to Fiona, I believe that Jesus has taken the wisdom that she implanted in me, as part of our relationship, and He’s developed it in deeper ways because I have lost her. I can think of several very deep reasons why this is the case, which I will not share here as they are too personal. This really is an example of ”the Secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him.

But be encouraged. You do not have to go through a bereavement process in order to take on a wisdom like this. Simply walk with Jesus, and what He says, do (John 2:5). Ignore what other humans say when it contradicts what Jesus says, even if they quote Bible verses at you that apparently also contradict what He says. Anyone can find Bible verses to support their point of view. But, as I said, Do whatever He tells you (Jn 2:5) and your wisdom will grow simply because you are walking with the Personification of wisdom – Jesus. And in the process, you will also find, almost as an added bonus, the strength and also the wisdom to cope with the hard times that life will inevitably throw at you. Life in its fulness (Jn 10:10) includes the ability to cope with the hard circumstances of life, simply because of Jesus, Who walks with you through those times.

This is faith. This is freedom. This is Jesus.

He will never let you down!


Header picture shows my beautiful Fiona dancing with her nephew, at the ceilidh at her brother’s wedding in November 2011.

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Golden Nuggets

Here are yet more interesting quotes from various people. Enjoy!


“We must stop using the Bible like a hammer, unless it is to build something useful”. – Mike Douglas

 

“The majority of humanity writhing in flames for eternity is not Christ victorious nor the church triumphant. It is creation ended in disaster, God’s purpose failed, Christ incompetent, and the gates of hell standing strong against a weakling church”. – Jacob M. Wright

 

“[the doctrine of Hell]  is the single most repulsive idea in all of Christendom” – Me

 

” ‘My kids don’t deserve my love but I give it to them anyway’… said no parent ever. Parents love their children just because they are their children. To focus on and say we don’t deserve love is to miss the point of the Cross. We are worthy of love NOT because of Jesus but just because we are created. The cross displays this, it doesn’t activate it. You are worthy. You do deserve it and you are loved simply because you exist”. – Nathan Jennings

 

“I always believed in God, but struggled with stuff. Through gradual and sudden revelation of the Spirit I realised freedom and actually see that imbedded through a lot of the old and new testament. God was and is revolutionary. Man suppresses it”. – ‘Naomi’

 

“…we stopped tithing too, and started setting aside money ‘for God’s Work’. Bottom line: I didn’t trust my church leadership to manage my giving for me”. – Me

 

“The good news is, God was in Christ on the cross, not counting humanities sins against them.

“No matter what you think about what used to be. It’s not anymore. Awakening is the key to living from what is. That’s good news, even if it used to be bad”. – Tim Standafer

 

“Divine acceptance is the house you live in, not a ladder you must climb”. – Jeff Turner

 

“Never make truth your enemy. You will always lose”. – Dan Frederiksen

 

” ‘I don’t like power I can’t control’ ” – random bad guy in ‘Black Lightning’

 

“Personally I see the cross as God in Christ getting inside death, and our horrific ideas of justice. He is exposing our blood lust and violence, and transforming it into the most radical picture of forgiveness the world will ever see. He also brings the I Am into the ‘I am not’ of death – busting it open for everyone at the resurrection. He becomes the ultimate scapegoat, a place for us to see our burdens sucked into the grave and left there.

“God in Christ is bringing the deep shalom of heaven to earth by taking all that is broken into his own body and defeating death by death.

“What happens when we kill God? How does God react?

” ‘Forgive them, Father, they don’t understand what they’re doing’ “. – Dave Griffiths

 

“These are all great [Scripture passages] and no doubt you will be aware of other great quotes which can be found to support [a doctrine]. Which all goes to show how lousy a Biblical Quote Shootout is to solve deep questions”.  – Ian Haylett

 

“There is a world, far removed from our own and from common sense, where what he says makes perfect sense.” – Luther G Williams, writing about someone making a contentions assertion.

 

“To my mind, when God has favourites, that favouritism is not at the expense of someone else being not in favour. I think Wm. Paul Young had it right in ‘The Shack’, when God says ‘Oh I’m especially fond of [whoever]’. God is such that He can have everyone as His favourites.

“The offshoot of all this is that if favouritism for some means that someone else is out of favour, then that favouritism is not of God. Because God treats everyone as if they are His favourites”. – Me

 

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The Slippery Slope

I often write about people who live in a fear-based system, primarily those who live in perpetual fear of God. One of the main threats they use to keep people in line is that of the ‘slippery slope’; the idea that if you put one toe out of line it eventually leads to the loss of, well, everything.

And in no place is that fear greater than that of questioning the status quo; asking awkward questions about God, about the Bible, and especially about your leadership, lol 😀

Here’s a great piece by Ryan Harbidge, describing the whole thing really well:


The Slippery Slope

 

It was a heady view for miles in all directions. We were hundreds of feet up in the air. We had reached the top, something most of the poor schmucks at the bottom likely never would do. We were fairly proud of our status, though we would always feign humility. We were set apart from the rest of the common, unenlightened rabble. The large platform had a safety railing around it, except for one part. There was a gap in which there was a long, steep water slide that emptied into a large pool at the bottom. I cautiously edged over to get a closer look. Grasping the railing for dear life, I looked over. My heart started pounding. The slide was so steep, I couldn’t even see the whole thing from the platform.

A sharp voice barked behind me, making me jump.
“Get away from there you fool! Stay over here with us where it is safe. We have all worked hard to get here. There were many stairs to climb and now that we are here we need to enjoy our position. You don’t want to risk that dangerous slide back to being like all of those fools down there. We need to be where they can see us, what they could become with much discipline, hard work and perseverance…all given to us by God’s grace of course.”

I blinked incredulously, slowly breaking eye contact with that smug, self righteous face. I turned and looked over the railing to the people below. There was a vast crowd. Many were on the beach. Some looked miserable and lost. Others were laughing, talking, eating and drinking. They, for the most part looked to be enjoying themselves.

And then there were the ones in the pool. They seemed to be the most alive of anyone. Not just alive, but astonishingly alive. In fact, looking around the beach, you could tell just who had been in the pool—by their aliveness.

And then there was us. We were a stoic crowd, all by ourselves, separated from everyone else. We would sing and tell stories to each other about how we have made the right choice to be on this platform, far above everyone else. Encouraging each other to stick it out here no matter how hard it got. We would also shout encouragement to those we saw climbing the long staircase to the top where we were.

“Come on! Keep walking! Trust in the Lord! We are praying for you! Don’t give up, there’s great reward where you are going!”

Some would keep trudging upward and onward, some would turn back in discouragement. After all it was a tiring climb. If we were honest, we would have admitted that the climb had worn us out as well.

Once in a while, someone from our group would go down the slide. Oh, what a ruckus that would cause! We would tell each other, very piously, that the slider was weak, didn’t have enough faith to stick it out with us at the top. “Don’t be like that person”, we would whisper. We would show outward disgust and disdain all while secretly wondering what the ride was like.

What was it like to have freedom like that?

I kept looking at the slide, at the pool, at the people in it, and I was drawn. The more I watched them, the more I realized that life up here on the high platform wasn’t what I thought it would be. It just seemed empty and lonely, like I was missing out on something important. It felt like being the only one to miss out on a friends birthday party because you have the flu, and you’re at home all by yourself while everyone else is having fun.

I slowly moved toward the slide, trying to look inconspicuous. Trying to avoid being seen by the pretentious eyes of those who would often take me aside and caution me against getting too close to that slide…with loving concern of course.

Finally, I could no longer think of anything else but the slide and the pool at the bottom. With my heart pounding in my chest, I stepped into the water at the top of the slide. I heard the gasps of horror from those behind me who happened to notice my new position. I lay down, crossed my arms over my chest, took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

I let the water take me.

Down.

The descent was at the same time terrifying and exhilarating. I’ve never felt that out of control in my life and I’ve never felt that much peace about being out of control either. There was only one way to go on this slide of grace. And that was into the pool of self emptying, unconditional love.

I hit the water fast and skipped on top of the surface like a flat stone briefly before sinking in. The water was wonderfully warm and smelled like fresh rainfall. I went under and could not surface. There was a tremendous weight making me sink that I could not shake off. I flailed about wildly, panicking, desperately holding my breath, before I realized that I was all right. Peace enveloped me. I stopped fighting and surrendered to the water. I took a breath.

My eyes went dark as my false self drowned in that water

My eyes opened and I saw differently. Before, my eyes were on my performance, trying to look good, trying to appear joyful when I was not. My eyes used to be focused on my flaws and the flaws of everyone else around me. Trying to look like I had all of the right answers. Trying to appear acceptable to the God who had never rejected me. Now, I began to see beauty around me. I began to see others before I saw my self. I was no longer concerned about trying to look alive, trying to appear joyful. I just was!  I realized that I was still at the bottom of the pool, but breathing! I was not just alive, but astonishingly so. The weight of my false self was gone and I could swim about freely.

Life is different now. The old crowd I used to hang around with on the platform looks down on me, some with pity, some with open disdain, and yet some have a hungry look about them. I see them looking at me and then glancing at the slide. I just enjoy living life to the full. Once in awhile the ghost of false self haunts me, kind of like an amputee experiences ghost pains. When that happens, I just jump back in the pool and breath in the sweet waters of divine love.

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it”. Matt 16:24, 25

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would
have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4:10-15


Excellent. Here is the link to the original piece.

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Bite-Sized Wisdom

Here are more bite-sized nuggets of wisdom from various people. Bite, chew and enjoy 🙂


“Christianity is about helping others and controlling yourself. When it becomes about controlling others and helping yourself, it ain’t Christianity” – Jim Heath

“A lot of people have done it “all right.” [done everything right – Ed] But when you look at them you say to yourself, “If that’s salvation, I don’t know that I want to be saved.” If those are the people in heaven, I don’t want to go there! Is that what heaven is going to be like? A bunch of superior people who tell you when you’re wrong all the time? Is that the life Jesus promised? That can’t be it.” – Richard Rohr

“Does our interpretation [of the Bible] match the self-giving, all-forgiving, radically merciful Jesus? If not, or if the fruit from our interpretation results in misery, fear and suffering, rather than righteousness, peace and joy, then I would suggest we are reading it – or at least interpreting it – wrongly. And then of course our application of that interpretation also bears bad fruit, and so it goes on”. – Me

“When you find that your heart has grown bigger than your doctrine, it is the doctrine that needs to go, not the heart that needs to be restricted”. – Jeff Turner

“The main difference now is that my uncertainty [about spiritual things] is tied to wonder instead of insecurity”. – Wendy Francisco

“Your membership in God’s family does not depend on someone else’s approval”. – Me

“The spilled blood of Jesus says that man is merciless to the merciful.
The unspilled blood of humanity says that God is merciful to the merciless.
The spilled blood of Jesus says that the greatest evil that can be committed, has been committed.
The unspilled blood of humanity says that the greatest evil that can be committed, has been forgiven.
What then does it say about all lesser evils?” – Jeff Turner

“What’s scary is how some people refuse to even consider there might actually be “truth” that differs from what they’ve been taught, and choose to currently believe, as though their personal knowledge is perfect, infallible, and never to be questioned, regardless of all the other ideology that has come before now”. – ‘Steve’

[On the doctrine of Hell in the Scriptures] “…the Old Testament does not actually mention it by name; Jesus mentions it only in a very few passages where it can be shown that actually we have His [formerly assumed] meaning wrong anyway; the Gospel of John does not mention it even once; and Paul is almost entirely silent on it. The emphasis on Hell in Scripture is nothing like what it should be if it were actually real, because … it would be the single most important thing that Jesus would ever have to tell us”. – Me

“Following the Jesus path ensures that one will make enemies, precisely because it calls us to reject the easy path of assuming anyone with whom we disagree, or who disagrees with us, even violently so, is our enemy. Ironically, the refusal to label a person an enemy as a knee jerk reaction, is precisely what provides us with the opportunity to trust the Spirit to empower us to “love our enemies.” “- Jeff Turner

“For Jesus followers, we must accept that those who have come to a different conclusion about the Bible, often have done so through the same study, reflection, and sincere desire to know the very heart of God that we have”. – Mike Douglas

 

 

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In the Presence of Jehovah

Here’s another magnificent song from Terry MacAlmon, In the Presence of Jehovah, by Becky and Geron Davis.

Terry is just so talented on the piano, and this piece showcases this skill to excellent effect. And this song speaks of the healing that is to be found in the Presence of God. As you listen to this lovely music, just let your heart be lifted up by the Holy Spirit, and let Her minister healing to your innermost being.


While much of the recording is instrumental, I have also included the lyrics for the verses too.

In and out of situations,
That tug-of-war at me
All day long I struggle
For answers that I need
But then I come into Your presence,
And all my questions become clear
And for this sacred moment,
No doubts can interfere

In the presence of Jehovah,
God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended,
In the presence of The King

Through His love the Lord provided,
A place for us to rest
A place to find the answers,
In the hour of distress
Now there’s never any reason,
For you to give up in despair
Just slip away and breathe His name,
For He will surely meet you there

In the presence of Jehovah,
God Almighty, Prince of Peace
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended,
In the presence of The King

Let your heart be lifted and your spirit refreshed. Feel the Presence of God right there with you.

Be blessed 🙂

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The Adventure of Freedom

(Thoughts by Chris Martin)

Two things I rarely, if ever, think about. Sin or the devil.

I actually believe sin was dealt with over 2,000 years ago on the Cross. I have reckoned myself dead to it. I no longer have to beg God to forgive me for anything, because He already did. Completely.

I don’t go through my day trying not to sin. I wake up as a son of my Papa. So washed clean that I squeak when I walk. Lol. I used to live in guilt, condemnation and shame, because I focused solely on everything I did wrong. What a hellish way to go through life.

I was lost, but now I’m found.
I was blind, but now I see.
I was dead, but now I’m alive.
I WAS a sinner, but now I’m a saint.

And the devil? Pfffft. He is a cut off, withering branch that can’t amount to anything. He’s not omnipresent, so I can’t blame all the bad things that happen in life on him. Stuff happens. It’s really that simple. Car battery dies…I don’t start “putting on the armour” and prepare for battle. I go to the auto parts store and get a new battery. Problem solved.

I have submitted to God. That in itself resists the devil. I don’t even think about him.

It’s amazing the growth I’ve experienced in my relationship with Father since I began to focus on who I am. Who I was created to be. Why I’m on this planet.

And it all began when the revelation of His unconditional love for me, and all of humanity, became much more than head knowledge. It became a heart reality.

What an adventure this has been.


For more on this sort of topic, check out my own article in a similar vein:

This is My Freedom

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